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The City Journals

UTA’s Midvalley Connector to reshape 4500 South communities

Jan 29, 2019 10:27AM ● By Shaun Delliskave

Rendering of proposed Midvalley Connector BRT station. (Photo courtesy UTA)

By Shaun Delliskave | s.delliskave@mycityjournals.com

A newly planned bus rapid transit system could bring thousands of commuters from West Valley City and Taylorsville to the Murray Central TRAX Station. The Utah Transit Authority (UTA) recently held an open house at Taylorsville City Hall to gather public input regarding the impact of the Midvalley Connector project.

The Midvalley Connector project is a bus rapid transit (BRT) system that is meant to deliver fast, comfortable, and cost-effective transit service. According to UTA’s project website, the BRT has faster, more frequent bus service; larger capacity buses; the addition of dedicated, bus-only lanes; and iconic stations with improved user amenities, like off-board fare collection, real-time messaging, lighting and benches. According to Jessica Tracy, a member of the Midvalley Connector Project Team, “The Murray Central hub is also planned to include a few additional bus bays.”

The project is being led by the City of Taylorsville, in close coordination with Murray City, West Valley City, UTA, the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT), Wasatch Front Regional Council (WFRC) and Salt Lake County. 

One of the key goals of the Midvalley Connector project is to create a fast and reliable connection between Murray Central Station, which has both TRAX and Frontrunner platforms, and Salt Lake Community College. Transit service demand and the need for alternative mobility options is forecasted to increase as the population in the area and SLCC student enrollment continues to grow.

Map of the proposed Midvalley Connector project. (Map courtesy UTA)

 However, according to UTA, the existing transit network lacks a high‐quality, reliable, efficient, and direct transit connection from FrontRunner and TRAX to local and regional destinations in and between Murray, Taylorsville and West Valley. 

Part of the project includes dedicated lanes for the exclusive use of BRT buses to help them bypass congestion, thus improving travel times for the BRT system. The segment along 4500/4700 South from approximately Atherton Drive to Redwood Road in Taylorsville is planned for dedicated lanes in the center of the 4700 South right-of-way. This portion of the road currently consists of a center median and two travel lanes in each direction, with wide shoulders on both sides of the street. The center median, in its current configuration, separates vehicular traffic and is planned to be modified to the dedicated BRT lane.

The new dedicated BRT lane will not take the place of any existing travel lanes for vehicles. This segment of 4500/4700 South will continue to have two travel lanes in each direction, as well as the additional BRT lane in place of the current center median area. For the rest of the BRT route, the buses will travel in the standard vehicle travel lanes (referred to as “mixed-use lanes”) like local buses currently do.

Westside neighborhoods in Murray and Taylorsville will see the large-extended buses travel through them as they pass through between Murray-Taylorsville Road and 4700 South. “The route was designed to travel through Sunstone and Atherton (neighborhoods) to capture higher ridership. This area features several high-density residential facilities that we believe would benefit from frequent public transit service,” said Tracy.

Rather than a typical bus stop, the BRT buses will need special stations to accommodate the longer bus. Station designs resemble smaller TRAX stations. The stations along 4500 South will be placed in the center island of the road, much like the TRAX stations in downtown Salt Lake City.

The project is in the final stages of approval. “Final costs haven't been determined. The project will likely be phased and funded through a mix of local and state dollars,” stated Tracy. Upon approval by all partnering government agencies, the earliest the project could begin construction would be 2020.

The Midvalley Connector project’s documents can be found online at midvalleyconnector.com.